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Ceviche


During my intermittent career as a restaurateur and bar owner I recall only one time that I did a Gordon Ramsey. It occurred during a late night, alcohol fuelled altercation with a  bull fighter, Leonidas Plaza- a good customer and sometimes friend - over the slow delivery of his lobster dinner.

 Rather than make a public exhibition in the dining room, the pair of us agreed to settle the affair man to man. A duel was arranged for eight o’clock the following morning, in the restaurant garden. Leonidas, being somewhat larger and fitter than myself and despite Gladys the waitress’s  (my self-appointed second) confidence that I could murder the matador, made the following hours some of the longest ones I have lived through.

Five minutes before the dreaded hour arrived, my telephone rang. It was my would-be antagonist who - like myself - had sobered up. He admitted that he could not quite remember what the duel was to be all about. Fortunately for me (or him – I could have gotten lucky) commonsense in the cold light of dawn had prevailed. Instead of us attempting to break each other’s heads, he proposed that we should reconcile our differences over a  Ceviche and a cold beer. That was my introduction to this South-American dish and I am still addicted.

This past, macho non-event was in Ecuador, where apart from being a tasty snack, Ceviche is considered as a foolproof hangover cure. Forget your Bloody Marys, your Aspirin or your Alka-Seltzer. A bowl of picante (hot) fresh shrimp or fish, marinated in lemon juice and served with tostados (kernels of dried corn) and canguil (salted popcorn) will cure even the most vicious of chuchacis (Quechua Indian for hangover).

Ingredients

2 pounds shrimp, prawns or whitefish
Juice of 6 limes, 3 lemons, 3 sour oranges, or enough to make 2 cups juice
4 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoons black pepper
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 medium red onions sliced very thin
2 or 3 red or yellow hot peppers, chopped

Method

Place the shrimp, prawns or fish (cut into bite size pieces) in a bowl. Pour the juice over them. Add salt and pepper and vinegar. Let stand about 6 hours in the refrigerator. Pour boiling water over the onions and drain. Add to the other ingredients. Add slivered hot peppers and let set overnight.

Best served with a cold bottle of beer.
 

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